by Vincent Saputo
After looking through previous New Hampshire legislation surrounding pesticide use and
application around schools, playgrounds, and sports fields, there does not seem to be much in
place to specifically notify people of pesticide application where children play. However, there
currently are laws restricting pesticide use in sensitive areas where exposure to the pesticide
could have an adverse effect on human health or the environment. New Hampshire Pes 506.07
lists sensitive areas as schools, playgrounds, athletic fields, and nurseries or day cares. So my
understanding of the existing regulations is that any pesticide application around schools or these particular areas where children play is currently illegal.
HB 399 states that lawn care pesticides cannot be applied to school grounds, child
care agencies, community playgrounds, or athletic fields at all, unless in the case of an
emergency pesticide application. This term "emergency pesticide application" seems to be new in
the legislative language used in pesticide bills surrounding application near schools and so on.
As defined in the bill, emergency pesticide application would only occur when all other methods
have been determined to have been exhausted, and there is an imminent threat to public health,
where an outbreak of stinging, biting, or poisonous insects or plants occurs. This section of the
bill seems to be protecting children from pesticides in general and from dangerous insects or
plants, but it is also allowing pesticide use in the areas where children play. While current law states these are sensitive areas where pesticides shall not be used, HB399 would allow an exception, in that case of emergency application. Personally, I do not see the reason why at this point and time we ought to begin making exceptions to pesticide application on sensitive areas as defined in Pes 506.07.
Additionally, the way HB 399 defines lawn care pesticide excludes certain chemicals and
other pesticides in general. To me, it sounds like this would create a loophole in pesticide
restrictions at these areas where children play, and would disregard the need for prior notification for applications. The main exemption from the definition of lawn care pesticide that is troublesome to me is “A microbial or biochemical pesticide registered with the EPA”. If there
were to be an application of a microbial or biochemical pesticide on school grounds, I think it
should be necessary to still notify those affected. Still, I do not see the need to exempt this kind
of pesticide from the definition of lawn care pesticide.
Furthermore, HB 399 focuses on the notification of those that would be affected, or the
guardians of those that would be affected in the case of an emergency application. The bill states
that notification be required 24 hours in advance of an emergency pesticide application including
the specifics of the pesticide, the targeted pest, and where and when it would be applied. While it
is positive that the bill would require some kind of notification prior to the application of
pesticides, 24 hours seems very minimal for notification. In the case of an emergency application
that would require the exhaustion of all other methods of pest control, there would and should be
plenty more time to notify those affected, I would suggest a minimum of 72 hours.
Overall, I cannot support HB 399. To me the bill seems to deregulate aspects of current
pesticide application restrictions on school grounds, playgrounds, athletic fields, and so on. The
definitions of lawn care pesticide in the bill seem to be too exclusionary, leaving out other
pesticides that the use of should likely be restricted as well. Also, the aspect of notification
requirements in cases of emergency application seem to be too light, as notifications should be
made far in advance of 24 hours prior to application. Additionally, I cannot see the reason that at
this point in time this bill is completely necessary in the state of New Hampshire.
Students and faculty from classes on Environmental Governance and Environmental Law at Keene State College are the authors of these posts. We also invite guest authors when appropriate.
NH Science for Citizens
Department of Environmental Studies
Keene State College
Keene, NH 03431
A project of students and faculty at Keene State College in collaboration with local NH state representatives.